The following post is brought to you by Incipio. Our partners are hand picked by the Design Milk team because they represent the best in design.
We’ve all heard plant-based diets are healthier for the body and the environment. Similarly, products made with plant-based plastic derived from agricultural scraps have become increasingly popular as an eco-friendly alternative in the realm of consumer goods. The idea is plant-based plastic negate environmental impact, each piece capable of decomposing naturally upon disposal instead of requiring hundreds of years to degrade. Yet many “eco-friendly” plastics are not something that will return benignly into the earth. The Incipio Organicore line of protective phone cases are 100% compostable, and can literally be thrown into a garden compost bin to return back into the ecosystem rather than adding to our plastic waste dilemma.
A mind-boggling 1.52 billion smartphones were sold worldwide just last year. Even if only a portion of those phones are paired with a case, that’s a lot of plastic required to protect devices. Which makes the Incipio Organicore smartphone cases an interesting proposition, handing a degree of responsibility back to the consumer to manage disposal at a personal level.
“Organicore allowed us to precisely manufacture and integrate in our Impact Struts Technology to provide 8 ft. drop protection,” says Kenji Okada, Incipio’s Director of Design, “a material that is 100% biodegradable in a compostable environment.”
No amount of eco-cred would be enough if Incipio’s proprietary blend of compostable plant based plastic didn’t meet protective expectations. Thankfully Organicore cases are first and foremost designed to keep phones protected from drop with a tight and exact finish, rated to keep the encased device protected at up to an 8 ft drop. Incipio cites several rounds of sampling and review to fine tune the material’s real world performance, all with the goal of finalizing a design with comfortable to hold dimensions, reliable protective drop protection, and friendly to the environment.
“With any new material there are challenges. When we start to look at different treatments and secondary processes typically used, we also have to think about how it affects the sustainability of the case as a whole,” says Okada, “Instead of introducing non-sustainable or non-eco-friendly elements, we turned to geometry and design to improve protection, tactility and grip of the case. As a company we are committed to doing our part and are actively testing multiple eco-friendly materials throughout all of our product ranges.”
Of course, it’s best never to let a device drop in the first place, and the Organicore case aids in that purpose with a texture that falls somewhere between grippy rubber and tanned leather. The combination feels like a premium product rather than a lightweight shell. Incipio also has made sure their plant-based plastic permits any compatible device encased within to still work with wireless charging accessories.
And now for the fun and most interesting part. As the name implies, Organicore is formulated to be fully compostable in both a backyard compost bin or in an industrial landfill. Incipio reports the time required for their cases to be broken down by bacteria and microbes “varies greatly”, all dependent upon “the quality of the compost setting”. In an industrial landfill, a case could disappear in as short as six months. The average backyard compost bin will require two to three years (a process we believe can be expedited by cutting/breaking down the case into smaller pieces).
Incipio’s team notes while their eco-friendly accessory is relatively new, they harbor plans for additional solutions utilizing their fully compostable plant-based plastic, also noting a secondary benefit is educating the market to seek and demand more products conceived with its lifecycle in mind. “We also hope that our message will go beyond the case, inspiring our users to think about what else they can do, from recycling to supporting other eco-initiatives and related brands,” says Mark Powell, Executive Creative Director at Incipio.